At Belfast near Christchurch a few months ago people were out on the streets protesting that a Chinese water bottling company had resource consent to draw from an aquifer previously used by a wool scouring plant. It wasn't the first such protest of its kind around the country by any means but it struck me then how unprincipled, how arbitrary this clamour for a tax on bottled water has been.
These folk didn't care how much of Canterbury's fresh, precious, artesian water the wool scour had sloshed around for its own benefit all the years it was operating until it moved to Timaru in 2015, but as soon as they heard a fraction of that water was going to be bottled for people to drink, they were outraged.
Why? Because the people were Chinese? Let's not go there. Because it was going offshore? We're hardly short of water here and we don't worry about our water being exported in the form of beer, wine, butter or kiwifruit. What is it about the export of pure, clear, unadulterated New Zealand drinking water that needs to be especially taxed?